Peter Molyneux

Founder, Creative Director 22Cans

Designer Perspective Peter Molyneux.jpg

Peter Molyneux is a twenty-plus-year veteran of the game industry. He has been a game designer on many influential game titles, including: Populous (1989), Powermonger (1990), Syndicate (1993), Theme Park (1994), Dungeon Keeper (1997), Black & White (2001), Fable (2004), The Movies (2005), Fable 2 (2008) and GODUS (2013).

On inspiration: My inspiration from games started from the earliest games, in particular Wizardry on the Apple IIe, which, in terms of game design, for me was the equivalent of the invention of the wheel. The ability to explore dungeons, create your own characters, and take part in heroic quests had never been seen in a game before.

On design process: The design process starts with an idea. These ideas just appear in my mind fully formed as opposed to being formed gradually by logic. I then roll this idea out to a small team of people who flesh the idea out and then talk through the areas of design. After the idea has been expanded, we go into prototyping. Art, animation, gameplay, and technology all get their own prototypes. We use these prototypes to prove things we don’t know rather than to prove subjective concepts like “Is this game fun?”

On Fable 2: In Fable 2 we hit a design problem whereby the player was required to experience the same snippet of the story multiple times because every time they “died” they were sent back 20 minutes in the game story. This is the standard in all computer games and usually results in people feeling frustrated and bored with the story—our design answer was to think of dying in a different way. So, rather than sending players back to an earlier level, we dealt with death by having it cost the player something they care about.

Advice to designers: Designing a game is not about thinking up a storyline but about what the player does and sees while playing your idea. If you can crack that, then that game’s design stands a much higher chance of being a hit.